Best Plan for Yosemite/Sequoia

Old Jun 25th, 2007, 08:00 AM
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Best Plan for Yosemite/Sequoia

I am currently planning a trip for the end of May/early June 2008 and need advice. We are flying out of Alabama. Would like to see San Fran, but definitely want to see Yosemite and Sequoia, if possible. We will have probably 9 days to make this loop. I have heard it would be better to fly into Fresno. I can use two different airports for the trip. Anyone ever done this trip?? I could skip SF if advised. Since I am just starting, I have not researched distances, etc. But hope to read up on it soon and get those coveted reservations in the park. Thanks for any assistance!
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Old Jun 25th, 2007, 08:32 AM
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There are many different ways you can do this -- and many postings here that I researched before our trip a couple of years ago describing different itineraries. We ended up deciding to just stay in the Yosemite/Sequoia area (for 10 nights) flying in and out of Fresno. Our decision was based on the fact that we wanted to do some hikes and really see those two areas.

It also depends (IMO) whether the Tioga Pass is open, which you may not know until right before you leave. If you just want to see San Francisco for a couple of days and hit the highlights of the Yosemite/Sequoia area, it can easily be done in your time frame. Also, depends on how much you want to drive while there. It takes about 4 hours from San Francisco (I personally would fly into SFO and out Fresno if the price isn't that much different), and about 3 hours to go from Yosemite to Sequoia.

Just read the answers you get and search this forum and decide what will work for you. And, yes, make your reservations as soon as possible if you want to stay in the park.
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Old Jun 25th, 2007, 08:49 AM
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Fresno is the closest airport - but it also has VERY high fares from most points. If you can get anything reasonable, then book through Fresno. But you will likely get better fares into Sacramento, Oakland, San Jose or even SFO. The savings could be substantial and for instance using SMF, you could drive through the gold rush villages along hwy 49, down to Yosemite, then on to Sequois/Kings Canyon -- and then dash back up the central valley to SMF.
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Old Jun 25th, 2007, 08:50 AM
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THanks and I can leave from Fresno, which sounds like a timesaving option. Also, from some reading I have just been doing, sounds like I probably could skip Sequoia this trip and spend time in Mariposa Grove to see the huge old trees. What do you think about that?? Also, if we skipped Sequoia, we could add an extra day to San Fran and travel up to Muir Woods. How long would that take??
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Old Jun 25th, 2007, 08:59 AM
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If SF isn't a "must" then I personally wouldn't go there just to visit Muir Woods. Big Basin state park is bigger and a better grove than Muir Woods and is near San Jose.

An option would be to fly into Sacramento and out of San Jose. You could do Sac > Yosemite > Sequoia > San Jose -- or -- Fresno > Yosemite > Sequoia > San Jose.
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Old Jun 25th, 2007, 01:13 PM
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Yes, if your reason for going to Sequoia was to see the trees, you can see the same at Mariposa Grove. They are different from the redwoods you will see at Muir Woods (and the other areas around there). Muir Woods is small -- you can walk through it in an hour or two. It is not far across the Golden Gate Bridge and can be combined with a very scenic Marin Headlands area. Also, Sausalito is close on that side of the Bridge. We went to Muir Woods (you want to get there early in the morning), drove up Hwy 1 to Stinson Beach, up Mt. Tam and back down to Sausalito for lunch in about 6 hours (stopping for pictures many times along the way) to give you an idea.

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Old Jun 25th, 2007, 03:02 PM
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One benefit of going to Sequoia in addition to Yosemite is that it is far less crowded than Yosemite, so it is much more of a wilderness experience.
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Old Jun 25th, 2007, 08:12 PM
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Sequoia has the largest trees and is a beautiful park but it's mostly the domain of campers and backpackers. Same with Kings Canyon. To do just a drive through may not be worth it.

If you are in Yosemite and want to walk/hike a bit, you can visit the Tuolumne and Merced groves as well as the Mariposa grove.

If you want to explore some of the Motherlode country on your way out Yosemite, you can also head up to Murphys and go up to the Calaveras Big Trees. This is a fantastic state park and the hike through the South Grove is one of the best Sequoia experiences. Not too many tourists know about it.

Around Murphys are also some neet caverns and some really nice wineries. It too is not that well known to out-of-state tourists but is a favorite with locals.
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Old Jun 26th, 2007, 06:08 AM
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Thanks for the insight. I have just realized we will not be able to leave from Fresno afterall, so will be a roundtrip from SF. I am thinking we will arrive in SF on Friday, stay through the weekend and on Monday, head for Yosemite. Stay through Thursday and then back to SF for one more day and then fly home on Sat. Does that sound like ample time in Yosemite?? We will try and stay at the Lodge, hike, take the raft trip, bike the valley, go to Mariposa and other areas and just hang out. Does that sound like a good overview of a first trip there?

My next question is this: Should we plan our trip for the Friday before Memorial Day or the Friday after?? We would be in SF for the holiday. Is that a bad time for crowds in the city doing touristy things?? Should we wait til the Friday after Mem Day?? Is Mem week considerably busier in Yosemite than the first week of June?? What do you think?? Thanks. These are great ideas and I appreciate your input.
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Old Jun 26th, 2007, 06:17 AM
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"Is Mem week considerably busier in Yosemite than the first week of June??" You will be arriving on the Monday as all the holiday weekend visitors are leaving. Many CA schools are still in session into June so the week right after Memorial Day shouldn't be too busy. But for either week, you would need to book your accomodations at Yosemite Lodge as soon as your dates are firmed.
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Old Jun 26th, 2007, 07:15 AM
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Sounds like a good plan to me. Gives you Friday to spend where you want -- either a little more time in Yosemite or another day in the San Francisco area. You will have a great trip -- have fun planning.
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Old Jun 26th, 2007, 12:59 PM
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Maj, I am thinking of going to Muir Woods like you mentioned, then back to Sausalito for lunch. Is there a place near Sausalito where I could park the car and rent bikes to ride over the Golden Gate Bridge?? I have heard of people doing that, but didnt know where to rent bikes. Also, is it confusing for newbies to get around San Francisco?? Should we try public transportation until just before we leave for Yosemite and then rent a car?

Janis, Thanks for the info about Mem Day. I was curious if it was just a long weekend for many folks or the beginning of summer traffic. In that case, I am thinking of leaving the Friday before Mem Day and spending the long weekend in the city. However, right now, I could really do either. But thanks for your info.
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Old Jun 26th, 2007, 01:03 PM
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In SF, I'd go with public transportation. You can get a pass that is good on all muni buses and lightrail/subway, plus streetcars and cable cars. Makes it really easy to get around. With a car, driving isn't so bad, but parking can be a pain, and expensive.

I don't know about Sausalito, but you can rent bikes in SF to ride across the bridge. I'm sure someone knows the name of the rental place that is close.
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Old Jun 26th, 2007, 01:45 PM
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http://www.blazingsaddles.com/

That is the web site for the bicycle ride we did. There are other rental places, but this seems to be the most popular. You don't need to reserve them ahead of time. There are a few rental locations (one is right at Fisherman's Wharf). There is a long hill going from Sausalito to the GGB so most people go from San Francisco over the GGB to Sausalito and take a ferry back. There are suggested routes, but you rent the bike and can go whichever route you want. We drove to Sausalito and did the bike ride a couple of days later (rode across the bridge and back). If you are going to do the bike ride, I'd probably suggest seeing Sausalito then instead of driving there.

As far as driving, I am no expert, and in fact got most of my information off here before we went, but I can tell you what we did and found worked out well for us. We rented the car at SFO and drove to Carmel. We drove back through San Francisco (sightseeing along the way to our hotel -- type Stu Dudley in the search engine. He has great detailed directions on driving places. We used some of his tips when they fitted in with what we had planned). We kept our car because we were only in the city 2 nights and were then going to Marin County for 3 nights. We stayed at the Cow Hollow Motor Inn (there is a group of these hotels that have free parking and that is the main reason we stayed there). For your purposes you may not need to rent a car until you leave for Yosemite (although you would need one to go to Muir Woods). We parked our car in the hotel when we arrived and didn't use it again until we left the city. We used public transportation for almost everything. It was the first time we had used public transportation like that and we figured it out pretty easy after doing it and looking at the maps (the best one of those was the one we got when we picked up our pass). There is a web site for all this also, but I'd wait until you get closer to your trip before I worried about that.

We did drive at times (on our way in and out -- down Lombard Street, through Golden Gate Park, etc.) and it really wasn't bad -- just avoid rush hours. We got a map of San Francisco (not the California one -- the one of the city itself) from AAA which was also recommended here by someone and thought it was the best map we had. Be sure you have a good map and that it shows which directions streets go and you should do fine.

I can't believe more people from San Francisco haven't answered your questions. I'm glad to help since I was a newbie to the area and had some of the same questions as you do. It's hard to picture until you've been there. (like most places) If you have questions on the San Francisco area, I would start them in a post with San Francisco in the title. The San Francisco area people on this board are fantastic when planning a trip.
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Old Jun 26th, 2007, 03:49 PM
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Blazing Saddles - yes, that is the one I was thinking of I knew it was something to do with Mel Brooks.

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Old Jun 26th, 2007, 08:20 PM
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Thanks again Maj! You have helped me figure out so much. Although the trip is a long way off, figuring how what we are going to do and the time needed each place will help me reserve the proper days at Yosemite. That is the whole reason I am even starting now, to get the Lodge reserved! Will most likely do that tomorrow. I am glad you mentioned Lombard St as I knew we would want to drive there. Thanks for the info on free hotel parking. I didnt think there would be any. I did plenty of research on this board for our trip to San Diego last year and when we arrived (first trip) it looked so familiar from all the discussion. I am hoping SF will be the same. I will retrieve the posting you mentioned with more info, but sure thank you for your time and help!
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Old Jun 27th, 2007, 06:32 AM
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Isn't this forum great! I found that San Francisco is one of the places that has a wealth of information here, and very helpful people. (I read most of the posts since we are planning to go back, and they very patiently answer the same questions over and over again. Admittedly, it can be hard to find things on this site at times.) I like it when there are different opinions -- gives me more information to decide what will work for us.
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